Friday, September 10, 2010

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

Well, it's not what you think.... I am being too poetical for my own good here. The Library at New Mexico State University is canceling hundreds of subscriptions due to a $600,000 budget cut, according to an article by Paige Chapman in the Chronicle of Higher Education (dated Sept. 8, 2010 in the Faculty section). Only 20% of the subscriptions are going to be possible to replace through consortial arrangements. The rest will have to be replaced with interlibrary loan requests as needed. And of course, there is not any extra money allocated for the ILL that will surge this year. And when the ILL money runs out, it runs out and the users will just have to fall back on their wits. The worst news in the article was that they are looking at even more budget cuts -- the same or higher -- for next fiscal year.

I am so outraged at the combination of publisher and vendor greed pumping subscription prices ever higher, and the ways that legislatures budget pressures can slash away at university budgets. And libraries look like innocuous places to cut. After all, it's not anybody's salary. And it's not the heating plant, or (heavens forbid!) a sports program. How rarely will anybody get together and protest the cutting of a library budget!

But I remember forecasting that the publishers wrongly assumed that there were bottomless pockets to tap in the academic libraries, so they could go on raising their prices for subscriptions and just squeeeeeeezzzzeee as hard as they wanted to get that last drop of blood out. See these two earlier posts here, which I illustrated with the goose that laid the golden egg. You remember that story, don't you?
Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg (2006) and a related post on The Importance of Timing (2006)

PS. I note that the link to Jacob Stein's wonderful essay is missing. Here it is.

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